Monday, January 30, 2006


A few weeks back, all-time jukebox hero and decidedly un-shabby blogger Pete Townshend offered a stern warning to iPod users to turn down the volume, or risk damaging their hearing. While I believe this to be an astute and endearingly conscientious observation on Pete's part, I must note that he failed to mention a couple of other pressingly important reasons for maintaining a low decibel level on any portable music device.

The Spillover Factor
This occurs when one replaces the detestable Apple earbuds with a cheap but decent-sounding set of external earphones. These cheapies may work well enough, but if you turn up the volume, everyone around you is unwillingly subjected to whatever you're listening to with annoying clarity. Take this morning, for example: I bopped into my office building, grinning happily over my Red Hot Chili Peppers, when I noticed that the nice gay man with whom I shared the elevator looked as if he were about to either A) cry, or B) slap me like the bitch that I am. I was confused and dismayed at first; if anyone loves me, it's the gays. What could possibly be amiss? And then it dawned on me...the problem here was The Spillover Factor. I guess the repetitive chorus of "I wanna party on your pussy" just wasn't quite what the nice gay man wanted to hear first thing in the morning. Oops. Sorry 'bout that.

The Ass Factor
Let's be honest, people...we all fart in public sometimes. We all know it. Don't bother lying. And the trick to public flatulence is, of course, not getting caught. So we exercise the highest possible degree of sphincter control, in order to ensure that the release is as quiet as possible. Fine. But sometimes, you inadvertently release what I call a sneaker. You do everything you're supposed to, you think it's gonna be silent, and it comes out sounding like you sat on a giant bullhorn-wielding duck. The key then becomes blame deflection. You immediately turn to the nearest person with a look of horrified disgust. If need be, you can even get up and move away from the scene of the crime, casting annoyed glances back over your shoulder, thereby causing witnesses to assume that it was that poor bastard rather than you who just smoked out the subway car/elevator/Armani store/what have you.

But Helen, how does this relate to me, and the volume of my iPod? Good question. Think about it: If your volume's turned up too loud, you're gonna be the only one who doesn't know you blew a sneaker. Thus, no chance of employing necessary blame-deflection techniques. are so, SO busted.
Don't let this happen to you, people.

This public service announcement brought to you by The Who, Giorgio Armani, and the gay guy who works on the 22nd floor.

Photo shamelessly lifted from here.


Blogger Earl Cootie said...

Oh, the tears, the tears of laughter, they roll.

12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh. my. god.

great minds do indeed think alike. i realized unfortunate iHazard #2 myself last week. sitting there on the bart train, thinking, just a small one, soundless, no one would notice, and i do. and then it occurs to me: you're the only person who can't hear yourself fart, and that may not have been as silent as you thought?

so now i'm totally paranoid, and i'm wondering what other sounds i'm making when i'm ipod-ed out.

12:34 PM  
Blogger Big Dan said...

Here's a spillover theory, though it may not work with the gays. Use the "other" spillover. If you're wearing low cut shirt, bend over to do something and give everyone an eyeful. Even if it does sound like a mud duck, you can laugh it off. Who's gonna really care?
Then of course there's the rip ass right before the elevator stops on your floor. Once you exit the elevator, turn, raise your arms in the air, point the index fingers down at yourself and yell "It was me!" just as the doors close. That's my favorite approach.

1:27 PM  
Anonymous js said...

I wear headphones at work. Might explain why I can't ever keep a cubmate for long.

4:42 PM  
Blogger Joey Polanski said...

I nevr thougt of it till now, but it IS kinda odd that Pete Townshend hasnt yet writtn a song bout th shame of public fartin. Youd think he couda had Happy Jack or Littl Billy let one go, woont ya?

7:52 PM  
Blogger Aethlos said...

Oh Hell-en, you delicious wanton woman, i'd slap you myself... but why reward said spillover? ;)

Weapons Grade Gay,


10:25 PM  
Blogger Dashiell said...

Do you realized your google ads are trying to sell fart machines?

11:42 AM  
Blogger Big Dan said...

Helen IS a fart machine!

3:23 PM  
Blogger Josh said...

Where have you been all my life?
I already love you and this is the first time I have read one of your posts.
(Is it because I am gay?)

6:33 AM  
Blogger Sangroncito said...

You said what?????

3:25 PM  
Blogger Rocky said...

Very funny stuff, Helen. The Ass Factor was especially amusing. Those ambush noises can be quite the shock.

12:14 AM  
Blogger missbhavens said...

Oh, God. I love that Special Secret Song! Haven't heard it in years...I had a similar incident on the bus while listening to "Sex Dwarf" at top volume. Got new no-leak headphones the very next day.

6:12 PM  
Blogger Da Nator said...

Both problems are easily overcome if you simply train yourself to fart melodically.

Great post.

8:10 PM  

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